Most programs will work on Windows 8 - as long as you have an x86 CPU (which your new laptop will have, but most tablets won't have).

Unfortunately, Windows still has very imperfect 64-bit support in my recent experience, so you might need to grab 64-bit or 64-bit-compatible versions of your programs. This will not require you to install Windows 7.

Of course, your existing programs will run on the classic desktop on Windows 8, not using the new (ugly, IMHO) Metro interface.